Saturday, March 25, 2017

A position that is close by, so if Dave Smart does not like how things are at Templeton highway, well,

Town of Hubbardston
Full-Time DPW Truck Driver/Laborer
Applicant must possess excellent driving record, current class B CDL with air brakes and hoisting license. Excellent benefit package & union agreement. Starting wage at $18.09/hr. Job desription and employment applications are available in the Slade Building or online at http:/ Send application and copy of your driving record to Town Administrator, 7 Main Street, Unit #3, Hubbardston, MA 01452. Position open until filled. Review of applications will be immediately. EOE.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Within the fiscal year 2018 budget book, under budget initiatives, under public works -

Highway: The major cost driver within the operating budget is in the emphasis on training for the staff, $1,750.00, an increase in the amount set aside for tree removal work ($6,500.00)
and the costs of mapping and developing a plan to more cost effectively deal with the new MS-4 requirements where many communities are planning up to $30k for FY'18 compliance. It will also help us plan for and develop a more cost effective approach to the annual catch basin cleaning given the capital investment needed to replace your 1974 vehicle and the annual labor cost of 100 +/- man days. (3 months or there about).

posted by Jeff Bennett
Now, about those shortfalls regarding the school:

Email received last year when I was asking questions concerning the school project.

From: "Alix, Timothy" <>
Date: March 2, 2016 at 7:37:05 PM EST
To: Diane Haley Brooks <>
Subject: RE: MSBA Information

This email seems to indicate that a secretary in the selectmen's office was doing the work on the records of the new school, rather than the treasurer. It also seems to indicate that the town accountant and treasurer "will be aware of what is getting reimbursed electronically and can have access to the propay system at any time to take a look at the status."

So, at least one member of the board of selectmen was aware of this strange arrangement of a secretary rather than the treasurer entering information on town debt, The debt exclusion for feasibility study and design, totaling $1,050,000.00. Still this was allowed to happen and now there is a shortfall in both items of over one million dollars.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Some thoughts from a Templeton town employee who may have the "I am entitled" attitude.

Secondly, legal bills are NOT personnel files. Secondly, school employees are covered under a completely separate legal entity and have completely separate labor contracts. Light & Water have separate labor contracts.
Last i knew the town eats from the same plate.
1-We pay for school costs.
2-we pay for light expenses
3- We pay for water expenses
I sometimes wonder how Jeff thinks,or over thinks issues he writes about.
The uniforms are so the workers all look professional.
Unlike the fleet we use day in and day or night out.
The paid boots are so when we ruin them in the salt/muck,we don't have to purchase again and again

Dave Smart seems to think taxpayers should pay his salary and buy his boots over and over again!

According to a report from the Templeton Town treasurer, Highway department employee David Smart was paid $46,804.46 for fiscal Year 2015. Not bad for a truck driver laborer.

Your highway team had business under control and your schools could have been open on time.
Just a note for people who use the roads in Templeton. The road conditions are due to the hard work and devoted staff who where good boot with warm yellow jackets and have safety glasses they can see well with. Right little JEFFY!!!
With a early start to the work day and a 24 hour shift that's how you highway team took care of the town business were tasked with.
I might add with what we are allowed to have to do it with.
Over rides needed for highway needs soon.
But you all should know that should be the case.
Check out the capital planning list
Davey Smart seems to think this is a game, rather than about the financial stability and planning for the future, five years out.
Smart seems to have a problem with the highway department being in the spot light, but what is the problem with pointing out things concerning the highway department. It is after all, one of the bigger budget lines on paper. What did that excavator cost taxpayers, somewhere around $200,000.00. So why is Davey all upset with those things being pointed out, he fought for them after all and seems to be the spokesman for the department.

posted by Jeff Bennett
The only thing the AC can do is suggest and that is it?
A well informed AC is their function and when they don't show for meetings why have one that's not well informed?

Or one that won't look forward and is only hell bent on the ridicule of other departments and elected boards. Look in the mirror when you say work together and see if you get it.
So when JEFFY stops with his shit about the highway I'll let up!
Until then the stuff will pile up. I have a nice blog i wrote some time ago and has a bit of history in it may be time to post soon.
Funny after time goes by we see what the players had for agendas.
I've never picked on anyone who was free from insults and inappropriate behavior to me or some who wouldn't speak up about it.
Remember the hair dresser Bev and the issue they went through?
There are good reasons to not shut up and sit down. One reason is when we do we have no voice and those who will do harm will.
Careful what you wish for. 

Davey, I told you once and I posted it here, i do not fall for threats, ultimatums or blackmail or anything else. Sorry you do not like the facts about the highway department being posted or the questions concerning highway department of Templeton. I guess when you are the union rep, you feel that way, but the highway department is an entity of the town of Templeton and that means it is public information, or it is suppose to be. It appears that when you post on the light & water department, that is different, well, you cannot have it both ways.

I do not consider it "shit" to post the labor contract of the highway department as it is posted on the town website. And like you stated, "there are good reasons to not  shut up and sit down, one reason is when we do, we have no voice." So Davey, I am just taking your advice, now that must be ironic!

posted by Jeff Bennett
Within the Fiscal Year 2018 budget book is snow & ice account history.

Under Fiscal Year 2017 is this

FY 2017:
Labor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $   52,297.00
Supplies & other . . . . . . $ 159,708.00

Expended to date . . . . . . $ 212,006.00

Deficit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$   (87,006.00)

That is the amount that has to be "found" to pay for the bill. This is from information as of February 27, 2017, so it will probably be higher when the snow & ice season is done. The Town Administrator is suggesting an increase for next year to $140,000.00. A small increase but with budget restrictions and future financial obligations, actual, such as labor contracts and estimated/expected increases, such as retirement, health insurance and school assessments, it is probably a realistic small increase.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Interesting Information from Town Administrator Report of 3-23-17.

(yes, this is cut and paste, because it saves time in retyping and/or prevents errors in posting)
This is not the entire report, which is available on Town website under the board of selectmen - town administrator.

TO: Board of Selectmen
FROM: Carter Terenzini, Town Administrator
RE: Administrator’s Weekly Report
DATE: March 23, 2017
CC: All Departments

g. Bond Counsel cannot complete its legal opinion on the Pleasant Street Pump Station until we can cure the default in not presenting the project to the Capital Planning Committee. This will resolve the problem

I attended the IAC (insurance advisory committee) meeting, met with a potential insurance consultant who might also provide some basic HR services within the scope of their work, worked on a public records request, followed up on the several bond issues (School Feasibility at $.125M and Design at $1.25M+/-) to try to have flotation prior to 06/30 to be able to have the cash on the books for FY ’17, worked with Alan on the seasonal laborer posting as well as adjusting the Buildings & Grounds budget to account for the HVAC maintenance at the Senior Center (+$2,750) and Diana to review the various items she proposed to cover from her FY ’18 formula grant. I’ll be meeting with the Library Trustees and others early next week in time to make a report at your next workshop on the potential Community Service budget changes for your consideration.

Treasurer/Collector: Nothing to report this week.

Highway Department: Some of the Highway crew worked on moving larger snow banks to increase visibility at intersections and to allow the banks to melt and flow into the catch basins. The sidewalk plow finished all of the sidewalks, opening them up for the public to access. At the Highway barn the crew was busy I the absence of the mechanic, changing plow blades and working on sanders and other snow and ice issues. They are prepping the Street sweeper for the Spring so it will be ready to go when the weather permits. Early in the day Wednesday a Snow Quall moved thru the area, we sanded/salted the roads to keep them safe. In the new administration we are looking at catch basins, the road inventory and many other projects

Templeton Police Department: PD – 297 Calls for service, 20 motor vehicle stops, 1 arrest, 0 PC. Cruiser 10 – a 2010 Ford Crown Victoria has been taken out of service and we are awaiting its replacement from MHQ. The Volunteer Cell Project: Working on water issues project is still moving along. Dispatch – 394 calls (does not include miscellaneous calls). Dispatch is still experiencing some radio issues we are working with both vendors to hopefully resolve the issues as soon as possible

Building Department Office: This week the Building Department received a total of four permit applications, two were issued and two are waiting for additional info. The ZBA appeal period is up for the property on 9 Grove St., once the property owner has filed the ZBA ruling with the Worcester Registry of Deeds, a building permit for demo and new build will be issued. A Building permit for Daymill Condos was issued for new roofs on all existing units. Four electrical permits and one plumbing permit were also issued. Administrative Asst. was out of the office Monday and Tuesday due to illness and Commissioner Hanks was out on Monday night. Administrative Asst. worked on research for abandoned/vacant property registry for FY18. Administrative Asst. helped research the property at 207 State Road; homeowner came in looking for info on approximate year his house was constructed, as he believed the information he was provided with at time of purchase was incorrect. With the help of the Assessors Assistant and information from the Worcester Registry of Deeds, we were able to determine a more correct date for homeowner.

posted by Jeff Bennett

Templeton selectmen are asking for a transfer of $10,000.00 from the town reserve fund to the Templeton Town vehicle/machinery fund under highway department to cover a shortfall in that fund.

Part of the reason for this request could be linked to the "unexpected' repair/replacement of a pump on a fire department truck. That is something that is appropriate for a reserve fund transfer.

This request is questionable, for this member of the Templeton Advisory Committee, as I believe the reserve fund is not intended to be used to cover such things as inadequate funding or budgeting, sloppy management or predictable funding fluctuations.

"As a town, we need to change the practice of relying upon uncertain sources of income, such as additional state lottery receipts for example, to fund routine reoccurring expenses such as the town operating budget."

That is a quote from the Advisory Report from years ago and I believe it still holds today.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Draw your own conclusion from these; I think they pretty much say it all.

No one is hiding funds on my watch!, those are the words of Diane Brooks and are represented in a comment to a post I made on my blog. Read it then read the email from May 2016, four days before town meeting.

No one is hiding funds on my watch. I have poured over that budget and I already gave some ideas and suggestions on Monday AND previously. perhaps if budgets didn't seem like a mystery reveal and given to the BOS at the last minute it wouldn't be quite so daunting to go through. There is nothing I saw as overstated, but the "lump sum disallowed" has me quite concerned. There was only one member of the advisory committee there in Monday when I have asked and asked for us to have a joint meeting and then it's approved by the Chairman and where was the rest of the committee? We have work to do and I hope we all dig in and ensure the budget is correct, makes sense and is viable for the coming years.

From: Robert Markel <>
To: Brooks, DianeColumbus, John, John Caplis <>, Morrison, DougRichard, Julie
Date: May 12, 2016 at 11:20 AM
Subject: Advisory Committee Recommendations

The proposed operating budget for Fiscal 2017 with Advisory Committee recommendations is attached.  
Their approach is based upon a reduction in expected revenue from New Growth.  For Fiscal 2016, new growth brought in an additional $94,000.  In the prior year, it was $69,000.  
I estimated new growth producing an additional $80,000 in revenue for FY'17.  Thought that this was a conservative estimate, below the current year, in an economy that is doing better.  The Advisory Committee cut the expected new growth revenue to $50,000, and they reduce the Town Administrator salary to $52,000 from $80,000 and they reduce the line item for wage and salary adjustments from $35,000 to $12,000 while giving a raise to the Deputy Assessor, the only Town employee given a raise directly in the budget of the Advisory Committee.  
Assessors are always ultra-conservative about estimating new growth.  Have never encountered Assessors who do it differently.  If our Assessors stand up at Town Meeting and support the lower number, the ATM will likely go along with Advisory Committee recommendations.  Singling out their Deputy Assessor for a raise will likely increase the pressure on the Assessors to support the AC new growth figure.
The BoS and I have supported a higher salary for the Deputy Assessor during the past year.  Her salary in FY'15 was $43K.  She was given two increases in FY'16 that brought her salary to $54K, and she was given an additional $2K in t our FY'17 budget.  Luanne is an excellent employee and she deserves a good salary.  I question why a $12K increase over two fiscal years is inadequate.  Is the AC attempting to influence the Assessors to support for their view of new growth?
I had $25,000 in the Selectmen's budget for raises for non-unionized employees.  It was raised to $35,000 in case we need to increase the Fire Chief's salary during recruitment.  The current Chief is paid $64K.  I put $70K in the FY'17 budget and an additional $10K buried in the BoS budget in case we need it.  
Also, the BoS has said that they want to recruit a permanent T.A. during Fiscal '17.  Why reduce the T.A. salary in the budget when it will have to be raised back to $80K or beyond during recruitment?
Kelli said that Jeff Bennett prevailed upon the AC to raise the budget for Veterans Benefits to $95K.  Not sure why.  AC supports the revolving fund which will use state reimbursements to fund Veterans Benefits.

posted by Jeff Bennett
Why are all of the Templeton Insurance Advisory Committee meetings held in the mornings rather than evenings when most people could attend the open meetings if they wished. Things such as health insurance cost to employees and to taxpayers are discussed at these meetings, so why hold them in the early morning when most people are at work? Maybe Dave Smart can answer that question.

posted by Jeff Bennett